The Enterprise Is Unlikely to
Jump on Microsoft’s Metro
to be hard-
MICROSOFT RECENTLY released a Developer Preview of Windows 8, which Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, called a “bold re-imagination.” For once, corporate hype is accurate; this new version of Windows is dramatically
Preston Gralla is a
and the author of
more than 35 books,
including How the
different from Windows 7, Vista and XP. Not that
different always means better. Enterprises are
going to be especially hard-pressed to see improvements in Windows 8. In fact, they might skip the
To understand why, let’s take a brief look at the
upcoming operating system. Windows 8 introduces
an interface, which it calls Metro, that’s completely
different from anything ever seen in Windows
before. (Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has more to say
about Metro on page 14.) Based on the Windows
Phone 7 tiled interface, Metro is clearly designed for
tablets. When you boot Windows 8, you’re dropped
straight into the Metro interface, which is made up
of many large, brightly colored tiles. The tiles can
display changing information such as stock prices or
social network updates — whatever you prefer.
The tiles run full-screen, just like tablet or smartphone apps. They lack the usual Windows menus
and controls and can’t be resized. They’re simple to
use and clearly designed for consumers.
So where’s the familiar Windows desktop?
It’s just another app. Click the Desktop tile, and
you’re sent into what looks very much like the familiar Windows 7 desktop, with the usual clickable
icons for running apps, a taskbar with thumbnails
and so on. There are some changes — the Start
menu has been ditched in favor of a Start button
that brings you back to the Metro interface — but in
general, what you’ll see there will be very familiar.
For enterprises, though, Metro is a problem. Up-
grading to Windows 8 could require a significant
amount of time to retrain people on how to use
their computers. It could mean a lot of reprogram-
ming. It could put a burden on help desk person-
nel. In short, it could be a migration nightmare.